Mary Leigh Cherry Joins Arternal Leadership Team (Transcript With Video)
Mary Leigh Cherry's appointment is in response to a rapidly increasing demand for ARTERNAL’s all-in-one, consolidated art sales system and the need to build a better and more connected team.
Mary Leigh Cherry’s appointment is in response to a rapidly increasing demand for ARTERNAL’s all-in-one, consolidated art sales system and the need to build a leadership team with a deep knowledge of and connection to the gallery and broader art world.
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Sean Green: Well, I guess I should start by welcoming you to the ARTERNAL squad. Welcome to ARTERNAL.
Mary Leigh Cherry: Thanks, Sean. It feels incredible to be here. I feel like this conversation really started five years ago with us. It’s hard to believe that I was beta testing ARTERNAL and now..
Sean Green: I know. And now you’re a part of the..
Mary Leigh Cherry: Working with ARTERNAL.
Sean Green: So, you’re a few days in. How does it feel?
Mary Leigh Cherry: It feels very natural. It feels again, this was this process that we’ve, or like a long conversation we’ve been having and an education that you’ve given me, honestly, like there’s been, I’ve given you, I guess some education, right? Like we’ve had this like back and forth this like give and take of information of how I’ve done my job as a gallery owner and a dealer.
And, and then you’ve. Introduce me to the wild world of tech that I love and how those tools can help us. And then now meeting your engineering team that Ray runs, I mean they’re incredible.
Sean Green: Yeah, no, it’s great. We’re having a lot of fun building, and going back to those days where we had to understand and dive deep into the industry. So being able to sit down and do that research with you.
Mary Leigh Cherry: I know it wasn’t the only one, but you’ve done the work, but it was yeah.
Sean Green: And to be here today where, you know, you’re a part of the team. I think it’s coming full circle, but the journey’s just beginning, which is.
Mary Leigh Cherry: Well, I think that’s what also was interesting to me is that you are still… You’ve built this incredible platform, but yet there’s still so much to be done and that’s thrilling to me. And that’s why I was really excited to come onboard.
Sean Green: Yeah, no, we’re happy. The whole squad is excited in terms of the gigs that you’ve had leading up to this.
Give people an understanding of like, you know, what you’ve been through over the course of your career. Cause almost two decades now?
Mary Leigh Cherry: Yeah, it is. It’s hard to believe, I was thinking back because I’ve seen certain pretty significant changes in the art world and I think we’re at this other moment real change, but yeah, starting in a one car garage in Venice beach LA.
So I’ve had this very kind of West Coast, Los Angeles, career. And I’ve been able to see this art world grow in such substantial ways. And, and that’s been very thrilling. I don’t think I could, if it were today, I couldn’t do what I did. You know, the art world was much smaller and we were all changing.
We were doing things like websites and Instagram years later, and things like those kinds of digital changes I’ve seen, but this is different. This is more. And this is really leveraging what the technology can do across the different roles within a gallery. And that’s what feels really good and different this time.
Sean Green: Yeah. You hit on a great point. I mean, like, we are very focused on each individual who whether it’s the registrar, the archivist, the sales assistant and the sales director. You know, understanding more of what each person has to do to get their job done, how we can make it efficient and with your experience.
And what you’re going to bring to the table is even more exciting from the perspective of what we’re going to be able to build, to continue to allow people who are in these different roles to leverage ARTERNAL to the best of their ability and allow the galleries to drive sales. So we like to fashion ourselves as you know, ARTERNAL is outsiders with a very in-depth insider’s perspective and that’s how we’ve been able to still be alive.
You know, there’s corpses of art and technology startups, but as much as we are tech, we’re so very art, especially with the people that we continue to add to the squad. And yourself, how do you see yourself helping ARTERNAL advance in this sort of outsiders with the insider’s perspective, but now you’re, you’re the insider with us.
Mary Leigh Cherry: I’m thrilled to be that kind of first person, although you have a few other people that have come from the art world they may not have owned galleries, but they definitely understand galleries. But you’ve got you in tech and you’ve done so much ground work and education to understand inside the art world, you have an artist, businessman and Steve, and then Ray, you have this incredible engineer and running that team.
And so, I think that it’s great, and also Steve’s a collector. So you’ve kind of got, you’re starting to collect, we’re kind of starting to cover it, all the bases. And so now with me coming on I’ve been in the shoes of so many of the clients and I’m hoping that that makes it easier for the conversations about how do you want to do your business better?
And, and it’s a simpler conversation because. I do have that inside knowledge. And that’s what I’m hoping I can add to the team. But you guys have done, I mean, you’ve done an incredible job. I know that often it’s like, Oh, you’re tech you’re outside. You’re not like one of us or whatever that is.
I’m hoping it’s changing, right? Yeah. That the art world’s becoming a little broader, more open.
Sean Green: Yeah. I mean the recent event has accelerated the mindset.
In terms of where you think art and tech is trending to, or especially from the dealer’s perspective. How do you think that tech trend from art is about to continue?
Mary Leigh Cherry: If you’re able to bring in other members of the team, instead of having these, all these separate conversations and so many emails and all these things, again just integrating your team. Everyone has to have their kind of siloed roles. But if the,tool is integrated, then there’s just less redundancy and error, less room for error and more and more room for more work.
Sean Green: So burning question that probably everybody wants to know, why are you joining the ARTERNAL squad?
Mary Leigh Cherry: I’m wondering if it’s going to be a surprise for people or not, because I think that some people that do know me know that I’ve, I’m always interested in new technology and ways to work better and smarter.
And..I’m an entrepreneur like you, and I think it’s that entrepreneurial spirit that we’ve always shared. And I think that’s what kind of initially brought us together. It’s like, whoa, you’re doing something different that no one else has done. I want to, I want to know you, follow you and you, and we’ve developed this great rapport.
And I think that ARTERNAL just makes a lot of sense for my own interests of what I think I can bring to the table of still being in the art world, but learning about what tech can really do. I’m sure there’s been technology and in the art world, but not enough and not used in the way that other industries use.
Sean Green: Right.
Yeah. We love being able to see how the tech is used elsewhere and, you know, digging deep from that tech perspective, but then building the actual product workflows in a way that can be appreciated by the market.
How, does it feel now knowing that you are here and with us, what’s your outlook for 2021 being a part of an art and technology company.
Mary Leigh Cherry: I feel like this is it right? This is the future. This is what’s going to sustain, the art market is art technology. And you know, you and the team, ARTERNAL has been, been doing this, like no one else. And I think that that’s, what’s thrilling to me. And also it feels like there’s a purpose. This is like a purpose driven business where there’s so much that can help people.
And so, yeah, it feels good. It feels like there’s something I can do for the art world in a real way.
Sean Green: When you think about how you got to this decision, as you were coming into the understanding that you wanted to be a part of this team, you know, what was leading up to your internal conversation that allowed you to get here.
Mary Leigh Cherry: It’s knowing what you’ve already built, but I will say it’s also knowing what you’re going, what you’re building right now.
And I think those were some of the thrilling things, all these developments that yes we’ve talked about them, but they’re real and they’re really coming. And I’m excited about that. I think that probably was the moment that I was like, wow, this is not just some CRM that I was in love with, you know?
Cause like it’s already great, you know? Fantastic and never been done before, right. For the art world, the way it works with data and all of that. No, one’s done it. And, but now that I see the possibilities and what what’s to come, it’s, it’s mind blowing,
Sean Green: You can dig in with our engineering team. You can dig in with our client success team.
There’s just so many aspects as you’ve seen in this, you know, few days of like what we’re doing that we’re thrilled to have you here.
When it comes to the state of the union of the art market from Mary Leigh’s perspective, what is that today?
Mary Leigh Cherry: Yeah. Well, I think the outlook is good, actually.
I’m super optimistic. I think that we’ve some difficult times to say the least. I’m just gonna leave it at that. But I do think that there it’s a moment to, to slow down and assess. Because we’re not all traveling so much. So it’s, sort of a blessing and a curse, right?
You’re feeling like you’re missing out on certain ways of doing business, but at the same time, maybe you’re able to focus on your business more and, and get ready for the future. And I do think it’s coming. I think that collectors have still been buying art. There’s potential for more sales. As far as secondary market sales to be coming up, as people are having time to assess their collections.
I just think there’s, I think the outlook is really positive for the art world, but I do, I do think that there’s always room for improvement.
Sean Green: You understand? You’ve spent thousands of dollars on, on booths.
Mary Leigh Cherry: I’ve done over 60 art fairs.
Sean Green: Right? Yeah. Huge
Mary Leigh Cherry: People have done way more than that. Right?
Sean Green: Exactly. You know, the pitfalls, you know how to drive successes. There’s other things that you’re like, Oh, if I had this, I’d be able to do X. That’s the part that can do that incremental value that, you know, we’re excited about continuing to build. So, yeah, I mean I’ve been saying like the journey’s only starting, so that’s, what’s exciting.
That’s what we’re, you know, incredibly excited to have your perspective on and then continue to be able to build industry leading technology.
How has tech influenced your life? You know, since you were young until now?
Mary Leigh Cherry: Technology, we can’t ignore it. Right? It’s here. It is happening. And I think that comes that out of my own personal attitude towards it part of my interest in ARTERNAL.
Sean Green: Right.
Mary Leigh Cherry: It’s like, this is really good technology and its being built so well and I want to be a part of that.
Sean Green: Yeah. In terms of your peers who are, you know, now seeing this news, how do you believe they will embrace, this next phase?
Mary Leigh Cherry: I think that people know that I’ve been interested in, in sort of the business of art. And while I love working with artists and helping produce works or whatever it is, and working with clients and museums, I think this gives me a chance to really help build a better infrastructure.
And I know we’ve been talking about, that’s not like a sexy word at all, but infrastructure is really important and it can be sexy actually like ARTERNAL we’ve talked about it’s fun to use. It makes it actually enjoyable to do that kind of work that has to be done. And I do see that helping set up better infrastructure.
For, for everyone – galleries collectors, art advisers will help artists. And again, it’s part of this. Like I’m just attracted to that idea that I feel a part of the whole ecosystem in this, in a role like this. Do you feel that way with what you you’re, you must feel that way. That’s why you’re doing it, right?
Sean Green: Yeah. I mean, I eat, sleep and breathe the art world. When I think about this, my, my, since 2012, so like my eighth year in the industry. And so, you know, when I look back, I’m like, shoot, I spent the night, did I spend these last eight years? Well, but, but you need time. So I’m like, Oh shoot. It’s amazing that I’ve been able to spend this time and build the relationships that I have because. It’s only going to help to accelerate what we’re doing. Product-wise and it’s a relationship industry. So, you know, that’s, what’s also incredibly important.
When you think of people who are watching and asking.. Oh should I think about an art and tech transition?
Mary Leigh Cherry: Do you think people are..
Sean Green: What would that conversation look like? If somebody sent you a note or a text message?
Mary Leigh Cherry: Oh gosh. I feel like what’s happening right now is growing. And I think, you know, we’re growing the team. I mean it, and I think there’s plenty of room for more people in art and tech and especially with building out the different suites and products. And there’s, there’s a lot that tech can do as you, as you’ve shown me. And so I think there’s absolutely room for people, but also if I think that having a better understanding of what, how it can be applied to the art world. I’m, I’m open to have those conversations and I think I’ve been fortunate to have a group of women, founder, friends that happened to be in tech and VC.
And I got a glimpse into what that’s like. This felt right. And this is where the art world’s going and has to go.
Sean Green: Yeah, I mean, we’re excited. I think that accelerated mindset that recent events have or is now programming people to think better about how technology can enable their business, rather than it being like this distant cousin, you know, but embracing what tech can do to help, you know, make their jobs easier, drive more revenue and help deepen the relationships that they foster because this business is all about building relationships, and being able to help artists continue to create. And without the business side, ou can’t sustain that creation side.
You mentioned that your husband’s the Angelina.
Mary Leigh Cherry: Yes.
I’ve been here a long time now.
Sean Green: What is the LA art scene mean to Mary Leigh?
Mary Leigh Cherry: Oh, it’s so important to me. I feel that I’ve seen it grow so much and it’s been so gratifying and I’ve had great mentors and some of the galleries that have actually been here now, a lot of them are going on 20 years and 20 plus years some have, have retired and moved on, but we still, we now have these sort of very substantial. spaces here and our museums have grown, Oh my gosh. We’re we’re right down the street from LACMA well, we’ll go take a walk. I see what’s going on over there because if you just look all our museums have undergone a major growth and major collaboration. And I think also our smaller nonprofit spaces have gone through amazing collaboration and growth.
And I think the LA scene for galleries is already so collaborative. It kind of always has been. It’s just a different type of culture here and every city has their culture. Right.
Sean Green: So true. So true.
Mary Leigh Cherry: Yeah, I do love LA.
Sean Green: Yeah,
LA is great. I mean, I love all the cities that I’ve been born in being Jamaica.
I grew up being Toronto.
Mary Leigh Cherry: Yeah, I like Toronto too but but I haven’t been in so long,
Sean Green: New York and then LA. LA is great. Especially at this time of year.